This post was initially inspired by a comment I've made on Bu Jassem's blog. My dear friend Bu Jassem (or Buj, or Buj Al Arab) is an Emirati structural engineer, who works for a London based engineering consultancy.
His post was about a stage in construction called topping-out, which is a mile-stone in constrution that signifies the completion of the structure. The only different aspect of the topping-out Bu Jassem was refering to, is that it was for a building that will serve as a QH for his own office, and that parts of the building are of his own design.
He has also decided to take on architects in the process. And here I quote :)) :
Dubai Jazz.. sho rayak? is this like your kind of work? Do you think the Architect did a good job? I won't tell you their name, as you'll probably know them. The facade is meant to be really adaptive and cool. Mind you, you don't see the quality of the architecture at topping-out stage usually (except for bridges, which don't really need architects, no?).
So here goes my reply to Bu Jassem...
Well then let me start the (architect versus structural engineer) chagrin! it is fair to say that structural engineers in general have bigger responsibility than architects, for that they are accountable for the safety of the structure as long as it supposed to live. While architects, even when they come up with the most eyesore designs, they get a little bit of reproach, and then when everybody is used to the de-facto building, the fuss tappers off and after a while it is finished. It is not always that easy, but most often than not, an architectural blunder can be fixed, modified, and even argued for! (mind you, architecture, like the taste for beauty, is very subjective matter...)
It is also fair to say that it is a bit easier for a structural engineer to become prominent and to go places with his career, because at the end of the day, it is a matter of science acquisition, you get the knowledge, and then you apply it. The only luck related element is to get the chance to practice this knowledge in designing decent building. The kinds of challenges that fascinates structural engineers are entirely different than those that tickle the fancies of architects. A structural engineer might get a kick out of designing a retrofit or an addition to a building. In fact, in most of the retrofit/addition projects I worked upon, I've had structural engineers taking delight at cracking the nuts of such projects, while I, at the other hand, wouldn't really enjoy myself taking up such tasks...
Yes that's true, architects like to design brand new buildings!
Talking of construction, I had, thanks to my old boss, a very joyful time supervising the construction of a building which I've designed myself. It was indeed a golden opportunity for an architect as young as I was (27 years old). It is an explicable feeling of pride when you see the building you've designed yourself taking shape, and to watch the different parts and components getting assembled to create the ultimate vision. It would also be good to admit one's mistakes and oversights and learn from them.
Ok. I am not very much of a copy-n'-paste person, however, I found this post of an American waiter from New York* irresistible. Simply, all the appearances or the indications in a restaurant that tell you at once that the "Value for money" slogan is not going to be met...
I have to warn you though, telltales number 12,13 and 15 are really gross!
Signs An Establishment Isn’t Going to Deliver the Service You Expect. 1. There’s an “unsatisfactory” sticker from the Board of Health pasted on the front door. (Ever since the rats at Taco Bell incident the public’s been so picky!) 2. There are glowing restaurant reviews hanging in the lobby for all to see. The only problem? The most recent review is from 1987. 3. No one greets you at the door with a smile and says “Welcome.” That’s because the sexual deviant who owns the place has scared away all the young female hostesses OR the hostess is in the back getting high and/or servicing the owner/headwaiter/chef/sugar daddy customer who told her he’d get her a modeling gig OR the girl’s too busy talking to her agent/boyfriend/therapist/girlfriend/married man she’s having a fling with/ on her cell phone. 4. The waiter greets you by saying, “What up yo?” 5. That same waiter smells like he/she hasn’t bathed in days. 6. The menus are sticky, torn, and out of date. 7. The olive oil on the table is rancid. 8. You smell bleach because some Einstein in the kitchen decided it would be a good idea to swab down the prep area during the dinner rush. 9. The air conditioning/heat doesn’t work. 10. You see a man sitting at one of the back tables surrounded by stacks of bills and crying bitterly. Then you find out that person’s the owner. 11. You try using the bathroom but discover two of the waiters are using it to have sex. (Can we have some privacy please?) 12. When you do get into the bathroom there’s a floater in the toilet and no toilet paper. 13. Think about #12 some more. Now think about the sign “Employees must wash hands.” 14. There’s no air freshener in the toilet either. 15. There’s only COLD waiter in the bathroom sink because the owner is that cheap of a bastard. The liquid soap dispenser is also empty. Please think about #12 and #13. 16. On your way back to your table you catch a glimpse of the kitchen guys and swear you’ve seen all their faces on America’s Most Wanted. 17. When the waiter’s telling you the specials he slips you a note that reads, “Please kill me.” 18. The waiters are inking jail house tattoos into each others arms using the corkscrews on their wine openers. 19. The bartender’s watching some kind of kinky anime porn on the TV over the bar. Ugh! Tentacles! That’s the seafood special tonight folks! . Surf and Smurf! 20. There are no customers in the restaurant and its Saturday night. (DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!) If you walk into a restaurant and see any of these things — run like hell!